Changing For The Better

Ray’s Take Nobody cares more about your financial well-being than you do. The good news is that handling your money is a learned behavior. The bad news is that you might be making some financial decisions that are not moving you towards your goals.

Change starts with a choice. But change can be one of the hardest things we do in life.

As you start your financial plan, have an end in mind. What are the overall goals you hope to achieve with your plan? What is the time line? What will it take to get there? This may mean downsizing, less outings with friends and family, no more vacations until debt is paid off or a savings goal is reached.

Create a budget. I have never seen a successful plan without one. Review and revise it regularly in order to accommodate any changes in your lifestyle. Look at your goals often to ensure you are on track. It pays to be consistent. Starting small is OK. Just start. The changes will build over time.

Pay yourself first (PYF). We may have heard the advice, but it’s worth repeating. Instead of saying you will save whatever is left at the end of the month, pay yourself before it gets eaten up and there’s nothing left to save. An emergency savings account can do more than pay unexpected expenses. It can give you peace of mind.

Create a retirement plan. Having a plan is critical because it typically takes many years to accumulate the necessary funds to live comfortably when you no longer have the advantages of a salary. Some investors make the mistake of only planning to have enough funds to last until the average life expectancy, instead of being careful and planning to live beyond that.

Creating goals, making a plan and putting the brakes on spending behaviors that don’t advance your goals will lead to a future that is bright.

Dana’s Take When you hear stories about friends or relatives who’ve had to downsize their homes or take a second job, the assumption is that they were living beyond their means.

But that’s not always the case. Even if you think you’ve done everything right, sometimes juggling your bills, living within your means and having enough to put toward financial goals can feel like a pipe dream.

There’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to figuring out what type of lifestyle change to implement to help get your financial life on track.

Some people may find ways to boost their income. Others may cut costs to the bone. In either case, the goal is the same: Improve your household’s cash flow, so you’re doing more than just treading water.

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